Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
It’s another Chanukah miracle: a small group of Jewish men defy the odds and emerge victorious. But this time there was no war, no bloodshed and instead of an army of Maccabees, the conquering heroes are the a cappella group Maccabeats, 14 current and former students from Yeshiva University. Their hit song “Candlelight,” a take-off on Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” has gone viral and reached over two million hits on YouTube in just 10 days.
Founded four years ago by Michael Greenberg, who is still a member of the Maccabeats, their debut album “Voices From The Heights,” released this past March, was a modest success. It took eight months for their first music video that posted online – “One Day,” a version of the Matisyahu hit song – to reach 100,000 hits on YouTube. That song was recorded in one of the singer’s closets.
But the success of “Candlelight” has been nothing short of meteoric, and mostly unprecedented for an Orthodox-themed song from an Orthodox group.
“We figured it would have a nice following in Yeshiva University, maybe in the centrist Orthodox community, but we never expected anything like this,” said Julian Horowitz, the 23-year-old musical director of the Maccabeats. “Immanuel Shalev, our associate director, came up with idea and we ran with it. After all, with a name like Maccabeats, Chanukah is definitely our holiday.”
Fellow Maccabeat, 22-year-old Ari Lewis, a Richmond, Virginia senior who is majoring in business management, concurs. “It has been such a crazy ride. We were dreaming of maybe one day getting 750,000 hits. We never expected to hear it on the radio, or see it in the New York Times.”
In fact, the Maccabeats are everywhere these days. CBS local news, NBC local news, Wall Street Journal, cnn.com, the home pages of both MTV and AOL, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, the Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, and on and on. The New York Times reports that the song has also been played by radio stations Z-100 and WPLJ.
The song itself, filmed and edited by Uri Westrich, a Mount Sinai Medical Student, with lyrics by Maccabeats’ Shalev and David Block, manages to synthesize the story of Chanukah in a way that has across the board appeal. The pop sound and visually-appealing images are safe enough to appeal to the Orthodox crowd, but the well-produced video is professional enough to impress non-religious Jews, unaffiliated Jews and non-Jews as well.
Buri Rosenberg of Monsey, another undergraduate Maccabeat, theorizes that the success of Candlelight comes from “making something that is ‘poppy’ but at the same time meaningful.”
Feedback from the public has been overwhelming, and the Maccabeats are taking turns answering the e-mails that keep pouring in.
“I get e-mails saying ‘you made me observe Chanukah for the first time in 20 years,'” said Horowitz. “We are touching people who are frum and people who aren’t frum but are moving in that direction. If you just put a little thought into making religion a little fun and a little relevant you can touch so many people in so many ways.”
“I must have answered 100 e-mails today,” said Lewis. “And by the time I was done, there must have been another 100 new ones. It has been so phenomenal and we have gotten so much positive feedback, from parents about their kids, from teachers about their students, from Orthodox Jews, unaffiliated Jews, non-Jews, so many emotional comments. We feel so special that we were able to touch so many people’s lives.”
The Maccabeats continue to share their special brand of music with the public, appearing this past week at Flatbush High School, Manhattan Day School and at Prime KO. They will also be appearing at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse at on Sunday, December 26. For more information, check out the Maccabeats on Facebook.
Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various Jewish newspapers, magazines and websites in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
We studied his seforim together, we listened to famous cantorial masters and we spoke of his illustrious yichus, his pedigree, dating back to the famous commentator, Rashi.
Jews who were considered, but not ultimately selected, include Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Marc Chagall, Anne Frank, and Barbra Streisand.
Cantor Moti Boyer came from the East Coast to support the event.
Personally I wish that I had a mother like my wife.
What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?
What makes this diary so historically significant is that it is not just the private memoir of Dr. Seidman. Rather, it is a reflection of the suffering of Klal Yisrael at that time.
Rabbi Lau is a world class speaker. When he relates stories, even concentration camp stories, the audience is mesmerized. As we would soon discover, he is in the movie as well.
Each essay, some adapted from lectures Furst prepared for live audiences, begins with several basic questions around a key topic.
For the last several years, four Jewish schools in the Baltimore Jewish community have been expelling students who have not received their vaccinations.
Both books place an emphasis on creativity, finding new and exciting ways to tempt the palate…
The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.
While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).
Blending anything thicker side is generally problematic and more often than not, I wind up dumping everything into a bowl and mixing it by hand.
“One minute I sing a song and they go back in time to their youth.”
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/flip-your-latkes-in-the-air-a-cappella-groups-chanukah-video-passes-2-million-youtube-hits/2010/12/08/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: